Tag Archive | stories

The Littlest Druid and the roses

Once upon a beautiful summer time, the Littlest Druid was out on the moor alone. She had been given an assignment by the Chief Druid. She was to sit and watch a wild rose bush. This was about the silliest thing she’d had been made to do yet.

She wondered if she had made so much trouble that she was being punished as far a way from the village as they could send her. She wondered if this was it. It had been hours and she was just supposed to watch this dumb old rose bush. Back in the village, work was going on as usual and she wanted to help. She really did.

It had been a great Beltane yesterday and it was time to clean up. The May pole had to be taken down and it was time for the sheep to be moved to a new pasture up the mountain. It was time to start brewing the summer ale so it would be ready for the harvest festival. The weavers were going to be carding wool so they could start weaving warm winter leggings and tunics. She had grown so much over the winter she was going to need all new clothes. Things were starting to pull and her leggings were way too short. 

She looked down at her bare feet and wiggled her toes. Summer was nice. It was a warm day and the sun was shining down brightly for the first time this year. So far she had seen a family of rabbits hopping in and out under the wild rose. It was just starting to bloom and the lovely pink blossoms were nodding on the breeze and she was starting to get a little sleepy. 

Suddenly there was a lot of howling and there was a big dog chasing a very small rabbit who was running as fast as it could for the rose. Aisling didn’t know whether to try and stop the dog or save the rabbit. She sat frozen in place but the rabbit dove under the rose and the dog ended up with a snoot full of thorns. Aisling relaxed. Served that old dog right chasing that bunny. Bunny hadn’t been doing anything but playing on the moor. She watched the dog slink off toward the village. She thought he was heading for the healers. That wasn’t going to be fun to have all those thorns removed.

She sat watching bees go in and out of the roses and hoped that they were going to be making lots and lots of honey. Honey meant honey cakes and spread for bread with new butter. It meant that those nasty medicines the healers made would taste better. It meant the Brewer would be happy making mead. Honey just seemed to make things happier even if you had to persuade the bees that it was a good thing to share. She watched them bumble along in their bumbly way. It was fun to watch them. 

She sat watching absolutely still when a deer came up and started to munch on the rose blossoms. She wanted to shoo him away. No flowers, no honey but the Chief Druid had said she wasn’t to move and she wasn’t to make a single sound if she could so she sat watching. 

The deer suddenly got a mouthful of thorns and reared back and decided the roses were too much trouble and headed off for the stream near by. And still Aisling sat. She couldn’t figure out what she was supposed to see sitting here and she was getting really bored. She was getting really suspicious about why she had been sent out here. They just wanted to do things without her being around. She knew it had to be because she punched one of the older boys who kept pulling her braids yesterday. It had really hurt and she wasn’t sorry she had done it either. He deserved it. Maybe not where she had hit him but it was as high as she could punch and it had been funny to watch him roll around on the ground. She hadn’t hit him that hard.

She watched the little wrens flying in and out of the thicket and wondered where their nests were inside the bush. She bet they were nice and cozy and she could hear the sleepy tweets of baby birds. She wondered if the mama and daddy birds got tired to feeding the hungry baby birds because there were a lot of worms going into that bush. 

The sun was starting to set in the west when the Chief Druid came and sat down beside her. She had just gotten the idea for a pretty tune and was humming to herself not nearly as bored as she thought she would be after a day on the moor. 

They sat quietly watching the sun set behind the thicket and watching the swallows and the bats come out in the gloaming to hunt their dinners. 

The Chief Druid said quietly, “What did you see today?”

“I saw the rabbits that live in the thicket and I watched a big dog try to catch one and he missed and he got thorns up his nose. I saw a deer eating the roses but the thorns made it seem like too much work and he left. I watched the bees getting their pollen for honey and I saw all the birds who make their home in the roses.” 

“Why do you think the rose has so many animal friends?” The Druid asked.

Aisling thought for a long while, “Because the rose is a safe place to be?” 

“Very good,” said the Chief Druid nodding his head and watching the skies. 

“What else? Why do you think it’s a safe place?”

“Because the rose is big and has sharpthorns and can protect itself when it needs to?” She looked up at the Chief Druid.

“How does it protect itself?” asked the Druid.

“By just being what she is?” said Aisling thoughtfully.

“So why are you out here watching a wild rose bush?” He asked looking at her directly for the first time. 

Aisling thought for a long while, “I think it was naughty to hit someone where they really hurt and not just try a nicer way to protect myself. That I can be useful and helpful with just by being me and helping with what I’m asked to do.” 

“Exactly,” said the Chief Druid, “And that it’s okay to defend yourself without getting to aggressive or mean?” He looked down at her smiling.

“He did look really funny though rolling all over on the ground and howling like that.”

The Chief Druid raised an eyebrow and then started to laugh. “Yes, he did, didn’t he? I think maybe he’ll have second thoughts about bothering you for awhile, especially since he spent the day cleaning the pig pens.” 

They both were laughing as they walked back to the village in the gentle twilight.

The Heart Town Witch learns to sing

A story by elfkat aka Kat Robb

Once upon a time for that is how all good stories begin there was a town called Heart Town. Heart Town was a beautiful place. It was neat and tidy with everything just so and the people were pretty too. They were all made of crystal and where most people’s meat hearts should be they had a heart of red crystal. Those hearts were all tied up with ribbons of every colour because in this town when you were loved by someone your heart received a ribbon tied in a bow of their colour. Everyone in this town had many, many ribbons tied around their hearts all tied in different kinds of bows. Silly bows, foofy bows, simple bows as individual as the people that had tied them.

A shy witch had moved to this town and her name was Fay. Well, that’s what the Mayor of the town had decided she could be called. Her real name was Penelope Faery Rainbow which was just not a good name for a witch. Names are funny things once you are given them they don’t go away because they define at least part of who you are so somewhere deep inside she was Penelope Faery Rainbow but not most of the time.

Every Sunday night something wonderful happened in this town. At the stroke of seven on the town clock everyone started to sing. First the people’s hearts started to chime with a lovely sweet sound and then the people would sing with their hearts. One person in town wasn’t singing but no one knew this, yet…

The shy and formerly lonely witch, Miss Fay wasn’t. She sat alone in her fantastically turreted and towered house and listened and wished she knew how to join in. Miss Fay had moved to this town as a grown up and had no idea how to make her heart chime or how to sing along with the people. She just didn’t know the song that everyone else had learned as a child. So she sat in her big stuffed green chair and listened to the town every Sunday night.

Once she had known this happened every Sunday night she made sure she was home that night. She didn’t want to be embarrassed about not knowing how to sing or chime her heart. So she sat at home and dreamily listened while sipping her tea and wished she could join in. It never occurred to her she could just ask someone how. She was still new to this friend making thing. She had only just told people her name a bit ago. She thought maybe she could ask the Mayor how they did it but she would feel so silly and stupid she hadn’t done it yet. Maybe she would do it next time the Mayor came to tea. Maybe while he was trying one of her new pastries. He sure seemed to like them and he always took some home with him for his family. But the Mayor came to tea several times just to chat and see that she was all right but she couldn’t seem to get her courage together to ask him but then something changed.

She had lived in this town almost a whole year so she hadn’t been part of all the celebrations and town functions yet and one day she got an invitation in the mail. It was a lovely thing with ribbons and beautifully cut shapes and a painting of a red crystal heart on the front of the invitation. This was a very special invitation. Once a year the town’s people got together on a Sunday night and sang together. Everyone was invited and she could tell from the invitation that she really was expected to go. What was she going to do? She had no clue how to sing the song or make her heart make those beautiful sounds. Maybe she could say she was sick or move away before next year’s celebration? But she really loved living in her cozy funny looking house and she really loved her beautiful garden. She loved the weather in this town. It only rained when the weatherman said it would and stopped right on time when the garden had had just enough. So she always knew she could go up to her tiny observatory and watch the stars and planets. What was she going to do? She worried and she fretted and she put off replying to the invitation because she couldn’t figure out how to answer. And then the Mayor came to call…

Because sooner or later things that you have to do come back around and have consequences if you don’t do them and in this town the Mayor would come to your door to see if you were all right.

Miss Fay answered the knock on the door. The Mayor always knocked. He never poked the door bell. She thought was very strange but she was too shy to ask him why. Maybe on another day she would but today she was afraid it was about that beautiful invitation with the heart on the front. She opened the door slowly. And there stood the Mayor in his crisp black suit smiling at her. “Won’t you come in, Mr. Mayor?” She asked.

“You know I asked you to call me Ben way back before the garden party? “ The witch nodded shyly. She still was having a small bit of trouble calling people their names. It was just so personal.

“Why haven’t you replied to the invitation we sent out?” The Mayor, err, Ben asked.

The Witch looked down at her shoes. They were really quite interesting shoes. They were black and laced up and had a nice blocky heel and an opening where her big toe could peep out but they weren’t that interesting and sooner or later she was going to have to answer the Mayor.

“Won’t you come in Ben? I have some new chocolate pistachio bars for you to try.” And the Witch bustled off to her kitchen grateful she had thought to something to do besides look at her interesting shoes and her big toe.

When she had brought a tea tray back into the front room the Mayor was seated in his favourite overstuffed chair of deep blue. “You still haven’t answered my question.” said the Mayor.

The Witch looked down as she fixed her tea still unable to meet the Mayor’s kind eyes and she said in a very low voice. “I don’t know how to sing like everyone else does. I’d feel silly going and just standing there what if I can’t do it?”

The Mayor looked at her. “How do you know until you try, Miss Fay?” Miss Fay busied her self with the tea set and re-arranged the chocolate pistachio bars into a complex castle.

“Well, what if I can’t sing and everyone else can? I’ll just ruin your celebration and everyone will be mad at me.”

My family will come to escort you to the town square tomorrow night and we’ll just see how it goes. I promise it will be all right.” The Mayor stood up and thanked her for tea and left without giving her time or space to say no.

Miss Fay sat stunned. No one had ever done that to her before. Maybe she would just stay in her favourite pjs all day and he’d feel too embarrassed to make her go but she decided that the Mayor was a force of nature and just might make her go even in her favourite gnome pajamas. So the next night at a quarter to seven she sat in her white wicker chair out in the garden when the Mayor and his family all showed up to escort her. She went to meet them and walked between the Mayor and his tiny wife Milly followed by all the children. She thought there were six but they kept moving and messing up her count. They looked like three sets of twins but she couldn’t tell for sure and she was too shy to ask.

They arrived after the short walk at the town square where there was a statue of a heart with ribbons tied on it and the whole town was gathered around it in a large circle holding hands. Ben and Milly grabbed her hands so she couldn’t get away and the town clock started to strike seven and a weird thing started to happen in her chest. When the town’s people’s hearts started to chime her heart started to vibrate just a little bit and she heard a small sound from it. The Mayor and his wife turned to her and smiled.

“See, you’ll be just fine. You just have to listen and believe that you are part of all of us because if you are going to live here we are part of you too.” The Mayor whispered this in her ear. Everyone in town was starting to sing and she could feel it all through her body and she started to relax. It didn’t matter that she didn’t quite know the tune in her head her heart seemed to know it and that was all that mattered as she started to sing with the rest of the town. This was a good place to live and now every Sunday night she could sing and chime too. She liked that. It was good to be a part of something and the witch smiled and sang.

Heart Town Witch

A story by ElfKat aka Kat Robb

Once upon a time there lived a witch in a town known as Heart Town. The witch had moved here because she was lonely and wanted someone to love her. She had gotten in a lot of trouble over that. People in Heart Town were people made of clear crystal who had beautiful ribbons tied around their red crystal hearts. These ribbons were all different colours, a different colour for each person that loved them.

The witch had gotten into a lot of trouble because she had tried to hold onto the ribbons so she could be sure of who loved her and the whole town had gotten all tangled up and some had fallen and gotten cracks in their bodies. The town’s people were all made of crystal so that everyone could see their hearts and no one had ever even gotten a scratch before the witch had arrived in town. Some of the people still hadn’t gotten over that. It just wasn’t what they were used to but the poor lonely witch had another problem now. She wouldn’t tell anyone her name and people were starting to avoid her again. This had made her sad again.

Names are important things. When you have someone’s name you could call it and get someone’s attention or ask them to do something. The witch didn’t want anyone making her do something she didn’t want to do so she wouldn’t tell anyone her name. The witch didn’t understand the power of two different words, “yes” and “no”. She was convinced if some one asked her to do something and they knew her name they could make her do it. This was a town of very nice and polite people who would never make anyone do anything they didn’t want to do but the lonely witch wasn’t good at helping and she wasn’t very good at even trying that was why she was the lonely witch after all. Besides that she really hated her name. Her name was Penelope Faery Rainbows. That was just not a good witch name. She thought a good witch name was something like Agatha or Esmeralda or Guisbertha not someone who could be called Penny.

So when she went out she was always addressed as “Miss Witch”. She was getting tired of this but she really wasn’t outgoing enough to tell anyone her real name. She was shy and had a hard time making friends at all. The town’s people had finally had enough of this. They got together again and decided that the Mayor should speak to her again. That’s what worked the last time and they saw no reason to change now. They were a very practical town of people and if it worked once it should work again, right?

So Mr. Mayor went across town to visit the witch. He actually liked visiting the witch because she had a beautiful garden and always had fresh pastries and cookies. The Mayor was very fond of baked goods.

The witch’s house was very strange. It was all higgledy-pigglety. It was full of strange towers and funny shaped windows like moons and stars and had a widow’s walk around the top. It was also painted in many colours. It had a teal tower and a cobalt blue tower next to a turret that was painted emerald green. The porch was painted lavender with white pillars and was covered in pink roses that filled the air with a sweet scent and even though it was all mixed up it all sort of mixed together and was quite pretty.

Mr. Mayor opened the gate on the white picket fence and walked up the garden walk. It was filled with flowers. There were columbines and foxgloves. There were nasturtiums and abutilons. There were violets and lavender and sage and marigolds and pansies. The whole garden was filled with colour and around the edges she had planted pumpkins. There were some of the biggest pumpkins he’d every seen. And as he walked up the walk he had an idea. He wondered if it would work. He walked up to the door and used her doorknocker. It was in the shape of a pumpkin too. She must really like pumpkins.

The witch answered the door wearing her apron. She had been inventing a new cream treacle scone recipe and had flour on her nose and all over the brim of her hat. She wasn’t a bad looking witch. She was round where she should be round and not where she shouldn’t be. She had big blue eyes that twinkled when she wasn’t being shy. “Wouldn’t you like to come in Mr. Mayor?” She asked, “I have some new scones that should go nicely with the raspberry jam I made yesterday or would you rather have lemon curd?” She shooed him into her front room.

The Mayor looked around in wonder. There were always so many things to see here. She had bookcases full of books. She had things made of glass that spun and twinkled and made rainbows all over the room. She had an enormous desk that had a huge open book that he saw had a recipe written on it. She also had the biggest cat he’d ever seen sleeping on a foot stool with one eye half open studying him quietly. Mr. Mayor sat in a big overstuffed chair next to the tea table that had a large steaming tea pot in the shape of a big green cabbage.

“So Mr. Mayor, what brings you over to my house on this bright sunny day?”

“Well,” Mr. Mayor started just a wee bit uneasily, “It’s about not knowing your name and I bet you don’t even know mine, do you?”

The witch looked ashamed. “No, everyone just calls you Mr. Mayor and I’ve never heard anything else.”

“You should be around my wife. She uses it a lot.” Mr. Mayor laughed. “My name is Aloysius Benjamin Honeydew but you can call me Ben. We would like to know your name so we don’t have to keep calling you Miss Witch. People here in this town are very kind and won’t make fun of it no matter what it is.”

The witch was blushing and fidgeting in her chair. “I have a awful name for a witch. My mother had no sense of a proper name for a witch so I never tell people my name. I’m afraid I’ll become my name and it’s just too silly.”

“Surely it can’t be that bad, can it?” asked the Mayor.

“Well, you be the judge, it’s just not a proper witch name. It’s Penelope Fairy Rainbows.”

The Mayor choked back a giggle. He could see that maybe a witch wouldn’t like such a foofy name. “I can see that that might not be a name a proper witch might like or even one you could grow into like Aloysius. Have you tried shortening it?”

“Do you think ‘Penny’ is any better?” the witch asked.

“Maybe not.” The Mayor was thinking quickly. “How about Fay?”

“That isn’t too bad.” The witch thought that wasn’t too awful a name. It didn’t make her cringe like her real name in fact that just might work. “Miss Fay? That isn’t too bad but how do I let people know nicely what my name is? I’ve been here almost a year and it seems kind of late and embarrassing to spring it on people now.”

“I have an idea.” said the Mayor. “Why don’t you have a party and invite people to your garden and you could share some of your wonderful pastries and have tea. You could send out invitations and just put your name on them and that way you don’t have to walk up and tell everyone your name. We could also put a pretty sign out on your fence that says ‘Welcome to Miss Fay’s Garden’. Would that be all right?”

The witch sat back in her big chair and thought and thought while the Mayor took another scone and heaped lemon curd on it. She wouldn’t have to leave her house except to go to the post office to mail the invitations. She could just stay in her garden and welcome people in but what if they wouldn’t come? She worried.

“What if no one comes?” She asked fretfully.

“Oh, they will come. People are always curious and they know from taking walks that you have a lovely garden from the outside. They will come, trust me.” The Mayor got up to leave and shook the witch’s hand. “It was nice to see you again Miss Fay.”

The witch sat in her chair for a moment. She got up and got her special feather quill and a packet of stationary and sat down at her desk. She dictated the invitation to the quill and let it get busy writing the invitations out. What was the good of being a witch if you couldn’t let something else do some of the work? She went back to baking. She had just thought of a new raspberry cookie recipe that would be good. She might as well use that jam she had just made for cookies for the party. Later that afternoon she mailed the invitations.

She woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and looked out her bedroom window at the sky. It was going to be a beautiful clear day for the party, so far so good.

She had been tidying her garden all week. The gnomes that lived in an oak tree in the back had been helping and she knew the dryads, devas and faeries had been helping too. All the colours of the flowers were perfect and there wasn’t petal out of place. She was going to set up tea in the side garden where she had conjured up some comfortable garden chairs. So much to do and what if no one came?

Three o’clock came and people started to line up at the gate. Their heart ribbons tied in gay bows and their crystal all shiny. The witch relaxed. People had come. She went out to greet them. The Mayor’s family was first in line. “Hi Miss Fay! We’re here!” they cried!

The witch went eagerly to greet them. She shook hands with everyone and remembered most of their names. They all greeted her happily and called her Miss Fay and she didn’t mind the name a bit. The witch learned a lot that day. She learned that if she was nice and friendly people would want to be her friend too. Now if she could bring her self to share the scone and cookie recipe…

Heart Town

Once upon a time there was town where the people were all made of very strong crystal and if they fell down they didn’t break. They were a very beautiful people and the most beautiful thing about them was their hearts. Their hearts were made of red crystal and looked like Valentine hearts. And one of the many unique things about this very special town is that they were all well loved and every one knew just how loved they were.
How did they know how loved they were? When some one was loved in this town their heart would have a lovely ribbon tied around it with a bow because love leaves a mark on your heart. Everyone always made sure that their ribbons were tied with a bow so that everyone was free to walk around. Because everyone in this small town had a different colour ribbon the hearts were full and amazingly colourful. And in this lucky town no one ever tried to see how many ribbons were on the hearts they just enjoyed their beauty.
One day a new person moved into the town. She changed the balance of things. When she met people she liked she put her ribbon on like every one else but because she was afraid of losing people she held on to the ribbon and tied a knot instead. She was afraid of losing the love she had collected.
Pretty soon people in town were falling down because she hadn’t let go of the ribbons. For the first time in their lives they were showing cracks. It was terrible. The ribbons trailed all over the street and got tangled around street lamps and cats played with them, dogs tried to bury them and birds tried to carry them off to make nests.
The town’s people got together and decided something had to be done. Their children would never make it to adulthood if they started having cracks like this. Some day they might break. So they decided to do something for the witch, for a witch she was. They normally liked witches. Witches did a lot of good work in town but this one needed help badly. She just had the wrong idea about things. So they went to the witch with a pair of big scissors.
“Dear Miss Witch,” they said, for they were always polite to each other in this town. “Would you let us cut the ribbons you are holding and tie you some beautiful bows?”
“No!” said the witch. “How will I know who loves me and who I love if I cut the ribbon and don’t hold on tight?”
“You will just have to trust like the rest of us that you are well loved.” said the town’s people.
“But that’s not right. What if someone doesn’t love me? What will I do?” wailed the witch.
“Not everyone is always loved by everyone. We all leave marks on people’s hearts. We just always try here to make a beautiful mark. We let go and let people come back and tie a bow on our heart when we are ready for them. And if they are never ready to do that we find other people in town who will love us. Tripping people and holding on to their heart ribbons is wrong and makes people like horses on reins in other towns. Even our horses here don’t have reins. You need to let go and trust and I as Mayor of the town will tie the first bow.” He picked up his ribbon and followed it back to the lonely witch and as she cried and shivered he tied a beautiful bow. One by one the people who had met her and cared for her tied bows on their ribbons. She was shivering so hard they thought she might crack herself. Not every one tied a bow, some people didn’t know her well enough and some people didn’t like her very much so they cut their ribbon. This made the witch cry with the loss but not everyone as the Mayor had said is loved by all. Some people just don’t like being held on to so tightly. You just have to grow up and accept this as fact.
The witch looked down when they were done and stopped crying. There were simple bows and frilly bows and silly bows but still there were enough bows to show that she was loved and liked. The town’s people had made their point and she was just going to have to trust that she was loved as much as her heart showed. And from then on there were no more cracked crystal people in town from tripping on ribbons and this made all the town and the witch happy.

Littlest Druid makes a friend

Once upon a time the Littlest Druid was down by the shore. The Druids had moved to their summer village by the water a few weeks before. Aisling had been sent to gather dulse again. It’s all she had done since they had moved and she was a little tired of it. What she was really tired of was not sleeping. Every time she wanted to sleep she felt like some one was watching her and it was diving her a little crazy and it was making her even clumsier that usual. So she was gathering the seaweed. She didn’t even like eating seaweed that much.

She just wished what ever was watching her would stop so she could sleep. Maybe if she took a nap? She rolled up in a skin she had found down by the shore to take a nap behind some rocks. She couldn’t believe her luck at finding it. It was a beautiful seal skin and some one had taken a lot of care to make it soft and cozy. She wondered who had been careless enough to leave it here in the rocks but since they had she was going to use it.

It wasn’t working. The sun was still too bright and the sand was itchy and the rocks were poking and she just wanted to sleep! So she gave up and folded the skin back up and went back to collecting the dulse.

She watched the gulls fly in and out and stalk the tiny crabs that lived by the shore and she picked up more dulse. She wandered up and down the rocky beach. She’d watched the druids take the coracles out to fish earlier in the morning and she saw them when they brought their catch home. She even saw the fish eagles out at sea hovering over the waves. The colony of seals up the beach had been making a lot of noise earlier but now they seemed to have quieted down to take their own naps in the sun.

Every once in awhile she sat by the waves  and watched the sets come and in and tried to see beyond the ninth wave where there was supposed to be magic happening all the time according to the boys but she never saw anything magical. She saw some dolphins leaping in and out of the waves playing. She saw some flying fish way out on the water. She watched the sunlight dance and sparkle on the waves and all the time she felt eyes watching her. She felt like they were focused on her back and for some reason not very happy with her. Well, she thought, that wasn’t exactly a new feeling. It seemed someone was always unhappy with her for some thing. Although, that seemed to not be happening as much lately. Things seemed to have been getting a little better until now. No one had really yelled at her in weeks. Just maybe raised an eyebrow. She just wanted to sleep, really, really, and truly sleep. She wondered if the faeries were doing this to her. Why they would want to do that she didn’t know she didn’t think she’d done anything to them. She got into enough trouble with out making them mad.

She huddled by the shore as the sun was starting to go down. It was almost time to head back to the village for dinner. She wrapped the skin around her. She was the only one left on the beach. She turned to go…

“Give it back!” she heard.

Aisling whipped around and didn’t see anyone. It hadn’t been very loud maybe she was just imagining it. She looked up and down the shingle. Rocks and a few gulls and sandpipers and that was it. Who had spoken?

“Give it back! It’s mine and I need it?”

This time she turned and saw someone her size on the rocks.

“Who are you?” Aisling asked. “And what do you want?”

The person leapt off the rocks and ran toward her pointing at the skin around her shoulders.

“I hid it in the rocks and you took it! Give it back!” the person said.

“How do I know it’s yours and you aren’t just saying that?” Aisling replied.

He stood looking down and said quietly, “Because it fits me.” The boy was just her size and strangely silvery looking skin. He had huge kind brown eyes that at the moment were looking both uncertain and angry.

Aisling was confused. “Are you the one who has been watching me and what do you mean, it fits?”

“It’s my skin. This was my first time alone and I thought I had hidden it well and you took it.” The boy started to cry.

Aisling took off the skin in a hurry and handed it to the boy. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know it was yours. It’s just warm and soft and very beautiful. What do you mean it’s your first time alone?”

The boy looked a bit guilty. “I’m not supposed to go ashore without my parents or the rest but I wanted to see what the land was like?”

“Do you mean you live in the ocean.!!!” Aisling goggled at the boy.

“Yes and it’s supposed to be a secret. You won’t tell will you?”

Aisling thought a bit. She thought it might cause a lot of trouble if she did tell and no one believed her so she said, “Help me pack up my basket and I won’t tell but you have to stop watching me!”

The boy looked at her. “Alright… You’re sure you won’t tell?”

“I promise on the hope of a silver bough.” Aisling swore. “if you promise to stop staring at me.

“Okay, what ever a silver bough is and I promise to stop staring at you unless you want it. I swear by the ninth wave.”

The two smiled at each other and packed up the baskets of dulse quickly.”

Aisling had been thinking. “Are you a ?”

“Yes,” the boy answered before she could finish.

“But I didn’t finish!!!”

“You were going to ask if I was a selkie, weren’t you? Yes, I am.”

“Okay, will you come and visit me again sometime? I get lonely gathering this stuff.” “If you let me have some,” the boy said with a grin. He slipped the beautiful silver skin over his shoulders and changed into a small equally beautiful seal and lollopped into the waves. A flash of a flipper and he was gone.

For the first time in weeks no one was watching her and Aisling relaxed and sighed. She picked up the baskets and headed towards the village and wondered when she’d see her new friend again.

We are still here…

I stand on a hill as the sun rises in the distance. I watch the metal clad men sweat and bend to move the heavy stone they have cut. They think to raise a wall to keep us out. It will not work.

For years we have over run their orderly camps with their white tents and their flapping banners. For years our people have beaten them back with weapons that would seem no match for theirs but we win. We win because they have no heart. They come from some place warm and they shiver when they go against us, their naked limbs turning blue and bumpy in the cold.

They go against us in great blocks while we fire our arrows and throw our spears from high rocks and from behind trees. They flee when we set fire to the heather to chase them down a hill. They cringe when our women join us in a screaming charge. We fight naked and painted in all the traditional designs in the rich woad and we terrify them with our disorder and we win.

So now, their leader in his mighty helm of bronze and horsehair plumes watches as they labour to build their stone wall across the whole of the countryside to keep the mighty Picts out. We, who are a tiny people. We, who live in small villages, have frightened and worn out the mighty Roman army. We have won. For now…

Until the next people who think to invade us try but our goddesses watch over us as well as our weather. We are here and we will always endure…

Aurelia makes a friend and learns a lesson

Aurelia, the jellyfish, wobbled. She didn’t like wobbling. She wanted to swim like a fish. She wanted to control where she went. But Aurelia was a jellyfish. She was at the mercy of tides and currents. She floated along with a host of other jellyfish. She actually liked being a jellyfish most of the time. She was a moon jellyfish and was a beautiful glowing white. She was proud of her even white cilia that moved thru the water but she dreamed of swimming. She just wasn’t built for swimming.

She watched the sharks hunt around her. She was really glad they didn’t like to eat jellyfish. She thought they didn’t like being stung when there were other fish that didn’t sting.

She watched the big groupers swim by slowly and ponderously. They looked very important. They moved as if the weight of the sea was on their shoulders.

She watched the anemones wave their tentacles in the water to catch whoever was unlucky enough to swim too close and laughed at the clown fish that teased the poor anemones because they couldn’t sting them.

She loved watching the bright orange garibaldis. No matter how deep she looked she could always spot them. They looked so cheerful swimming in and out of the kelp forest. Ohh! How she wanted to swim like them until she saw someone eat one. Hmmm. That didn’t look so nice.

She watched the male seahorse and his cargo of little ones scud across the sea floor. He looked like such a proud dad.

She saw that even the starfish could slowly creep across the sea floor. She did think the starfish was awfully mean to pull apart those poor clams that were just sitting there resting. And it was kind of gross.

She tried moving her cilia like the sea horse moved but it just gave her a cramp and tied some of her cilia in knots. It took her a long time to get them all moving in the same direction again. She wasn’t going to do that again.

She tried pulsing her canopy but it really wasn’t swimming she’d need fins for that. She had been floating along with the rest of the bloom when she passed over a stone with a picture on it. It was the face of a woman with snakes for hair. Here deep in the water the snakes looked like they were moving almost like Aurelia moved.

The picture started to move and the woman sat up and looked at Aurelia. The snakes on her head were moving! Aurelia had never seen stone snakes and she moved closer to look at the woman.

“Who are you,” said Aurelia. Gazing at the woman with awe. There was something very special about this statue.

The woman laughed and bubbles went everywhere. “I’m Medusa, little one.” The statue said.

“Why is that funny” Aurelia was a little hurt. She didn’t like being laughed at.

“Do you know what the humans call jellies?” The woman asked

“No, I don’t know any humans.” Replied Aurelia.

“Medusas,” said the statue. “You are named after me.”

“I am?” said Aurelia.

“You are, the humans think you’re tentacles are like my snakes.”

“I guess they could be but aren’t snakes usually on land?”

“Yes, but they needed a name for you and all your relatives so they used mine. I don’t mind. I think all of you are beautiful, especially you moon jellies.”

“You do? I’m just like every other moon jelly except that I want to swim. None of the others do and they think I’m silly.” Aurelia said sadly.

“But you move so beautifully. It’s like dancing.” Medusa said.

“I want to move fast and go where I want and not just follow the currents along.”

“Well, we are all built to move the way we move so I don’t think having fins will help unless you also have a backbone but what if I can show you a way to move faster if just for a little while?”

“Okay, you can do that?” asked Aurelia.

“I can show you. Follow the current to the shore not far from here on the other side of the kelp beds. You need to follow the tide in and ride the waves but you have to be careful and not let your self get beached. If you get beached you will die. You have to ride the tide back out. You can do that as long as you want. Humans have even made a sport of it but I suggest you do it at night where they won’t decide to hurt you. You will be able to see by the glow of the night waves. Go, little one and try it tonight.”

Aurelia let herself float to the shore. This was exciting! She caught the edge of the tide and let her self float on the evening tides. Suddenly she was picked up by a huge wave and pushed round and round at a speed that made her very dizzy. She was passed from wave to wave and was headed straight for the beach. She let herself go and then she was on the beach. She let go and was drawn back into the wave and back out to sea. She decided to try it again. She rode the waves again and again until she was very tired and floated back out past the kelp bed. She rode the current until she found Medusa again.

“Thank you,” Aurelia told Medusa for that gift.

Medusa looked at her and the snakes danced in the current over her head.

“I just gave you a way to be happy the way you are. That’s all anyone can do to help a friend.” Medusa closed her eyes and the snakes froze again into stone. Aurelia floated awhile. Glad to have a new friend and hoping Medusa would wake again one day but for now Aurelia was content to just be a jelly.

The Littlest Druid celebrates La Fheill Bhrighde

Once upon a time, Aisling was sitting on the side of the hill above the flocks of sheep. She was thoroughly wrapped in a sheepskin coat and leggings and she wondered if the sheep cared that she was wearing one of their old friends. It made her feel funny until she remembered how cold she would be if she wasn’t wearing them. She was feeling marooned.

She’d been sent out here to watch for the ewes to start bearing their lambs. She wanted to be back at the village while they got ready for Imbolq but once again she had made herself unwelcome. Everyone was all excited for the feast and ritual. Most of her friends were more excited about the feast than the ritual. It had been a long time since the Winter Solstice festival and the winter had been cold and hard. It was time to celebrate spring’s return.

She had been trying to help out with all the preparations but her teacher and the Chief Druid had finally sent her out here to be with the sheep.

They had told her it was a very important job but sitting here alone in the cold it didn’t seem so important. It seemed like punishment. She lowered her head to her knees and felt a rush of self pity.

She always meant well but things just didn’t seem to ever work out well for her. She had been helping with the beeswax candle making but got distracted making wax build up on her finger. She couldn’t help how nice and warm the wax had felt on her hands and it smelled so good!

Somehow the druidess in charge of the candlemaking hadn’t seen it that way. She’d gone over to hold the wool that a group of women were spinning and some how it ended up in one big knot instead of a ball that they could use to knit.

So now she was here, by herself, while the regular shepherds went in for dinner and a nap. They had told her not to worry. None of the ewes were ready to give birth yet so all she had to do was sit.

So she sat in the dark surrounded by sleepy, stupid sheep even the sheep dogs had gone with the shepherds for their dinner. She gave a heavy sigh.

The Chief Druid had said this was an important job because they couldn’t start the celebration until the ewes gave birth and their milk came in. This usually happened around a full moon and a half after solstice so it was a few days yet. He had said someone had to be here because sheep sometimes got into trouble and the mother died giving birth so someone had to be with her and some one had to make sure the lambs would be alright. Aisling just felt punished and not important at all. The only thing she could see was that if there was extra milk there would be really good cheese and she loved cheese.

She was trying to stay awake by counting falling stars and watching the Aurora shift and move across the sky. One of the boys had said it was Brighid’s green skirt moving across the sky and she wondered if she tried hard enough she could see the rest of Brighid.

She was starting to get really drowsy when a ram hit her from behind and rolled her forward into the grass. “Hey!” The ram stood looking at her and then turned to run across the field. He stopped to see if she was following so she did.

He turned around and started running again toward the far eastern part of the field. She struggled to catch up. He was moving really fast. She had no idea a sheep could go that fast. She fell twice and each time he stopped and waited for her to get up.

What was happening here? The shepherds had promised nothing would be exciting in the least but she had a feeling they were wrong.  At the edge of the field was a dip and in that dip was a very pregnant ewe. She was bleating softly at the ram and she looked like she was trying to give birth. She was on her side and Aisling knew that wasn’t good. Sheep give birth lying down but she didn’t look right.

The ram butted Aisling again. Aisling knew she was in real trouble. The sheep’s side was heaving as she strained. Something was very wrong and Aisling was very scared. They had promised nothing would happen and as usual they were wrong! She had never even watched let alone help a sheep give birth and there was no one else around.

Aisling started praying to Brighid because she couldn’t think of anything else to do while she patted the sheep and tried to remember to breathe.

What was she going to do? If the sheep or the lambs died she’d be in real trouble then and it would mean a bad celebration and year.

She was too far away to call for help. She just kept stroking the sheep’s head and felt a tear down her cheek. She’d really done it this time. They had promised it wasn’t time yet!

She felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up. There was a woman in green kneeling next to the sheep. The woman smiled at her and began to touch the sheep gently to find out what was wrong.

She motioned to Aisling to hold the sheep’s upper body and rolled up her sleeves and reached into the sheep’s birth canal to straighten the lamb that came sliding out. The sheep gave a jerk and turned to lick her lamb while the lamb tried to stand. The woman gently pushed the lamb toward the mother’s teat and wiped her hands on the grass.

She watched the lamb and ewe for a moment and smiled. She stood up and gave Aisling a hug.

“You did well and now you better go tell the shepherds and the Chief Druid what has happened. It’s time for the feast.”

Aisling looked at the woman. She was dressed all in green with embroidery of red, black and white around her dress. The woman had red hair worn in braids like a crown and had warm blue eyes. Aisling wanted to ask her name but she had a feeling she knew who she was. She had asked her to come after all.

“Yes, I am who you think I am. You asked with all your heart and I came to help. Prayers are always answered when you ask. You just may not like the answer.”

Aisling looked at her with doubt. She looked at the Goddess and she looked at the ewe and her lamb. The ram had sat down with his legs folded under them and just looked at the two of them. She decided they were the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

Brighid gave Aisling’s hair one final stroke. “You’d better go and tell them the news.” She said again and gave Aisling a slight push. “But don’t tell them I was here. Let it be our secret. They don’t need to know. Well, maybe the Chief Druid.”

She laughed and walked away over her shoulder she said, “Keep trying Aisling, just keep trying.”

Aisling took off running back across the field. The boys were right. The Aurora did look like Brighid’s skirt she thought as she ran.

Yuletide story – The Littlest Druid and the Reindeer

Aisling sat staring out into the sheep pasture. She’d volunteered to stay behind while almost everyone went over to Si an Bhru’ (Newgrange) to watch the Sun return. She knew that the sun would return after her night with the Chief Druid. Her teacher was due to give birth soon and she was in no condition to walk to the barrow so a few healers and Aisling had volunteered to stay behind and have their own quiet Solstice celebration.

Aisling looked up at the stars. The night was dark and calm. The stars twinkled over head like a million tiny gems and thought of the watch taking place not so very far away. She was going to keep watch this night for all that were left here in the village.

She could hear the soft breathing of her teacher as she slept inside. She could see the candles in the windows of the healer’s cottage down the path. She knew it was very late because all was so still. The sheep were bedded down near their fold. The cattle were in their barn drowsing and it felt like she was the last person left in the world. And so she was the only who kept watch.

She vowed she would not fall asleep like last year. She was a year older now and not the baby who was always in trouble. She thought of all the interesting things that had happened this year. She put her head on her knees and wrapped the sheepskin tighter around her. It was getting cold and she wondered how much colder it was going to get before morning and whether it was time for a warm drink.

She looked in the direction of the barrow and it seemed like the there was a light coming over the ground from that direction. It lit the way as if someone had drawn a path in light. She had never seen that before and she wondered what or who was causing the lighted path. She wished she could follow the path but her duty was here tonight watching to see is the baby would come.

As she was watching the lighted path deer started to appear and walk confidently down the path and through the village. Aisling watched in awe. She had never seen so many reindeer and never in the village and she wondered where they had come from and where they were going. Following the reindeer was a woman in a dress made of the reindeer’s hides and she wore a cowl with horns from the reindeer. The woman left the herd and walked over to Aisling.

“Blessings to you this Solstice night.” The woman said to Aisling. “Come with me, Aisling.”

“Blessed Solstice to you as well.” replied Aisling, a little startled that the woman had even seen her sitting here in the dark. “Where have you journeyed from and would you like something hot to eat or drink?” Aisling offered.

“I wouldn’t mind a cup of warm cider that is on the hearth.” The woman said.

AIsling suddenly knew that this was not an ordinary meeting if the woman knew what was inside and shivered a little as she got up to get a cup for the woman. She hurried back out and handed the cup to the woman.

“I have come from far and I have farther still to go tonight but thank you for the warmth of the drink.” The woman said and drank slowly from her cup. Aisling watched her shyly and wondered if she could ask what she was doing when the woman spoke.

The woman smiled as she said. “I’m Elen of the Ways and tonight I walk the leys and you need to come with me tonight.”

“The Leys?” asked AIsling.

“Yes,” replied Elen. “The paths on which energy travels easiest on the earth. I walk to connect them so you can use them in your workings.”

Aisling thought a bit. She knew her teachers had said it was easier in some places than others to work magic or create poetry. And she knew that the village had been sited along one of those paths as was the barrow where everyone else in the village was keeping watch.

“Did you just come from the barrows?” Asked Aisling.

“Yes, and the Chief Druid said you could come with me tonight. Now please, grab a cloak and come. Nothing will happen while we are gone.”

“You’re sure?” Aisling said anxiously.

“I’m sure.” Elen said emphatically and helped Aisling get astride the reindeer that was patiently standing.

The woman started walking directly east and she walked faster that any normal human being could.

Aisling asked Elen where they were going. “Your Chief Druid thought you might like to help me open the way for the sun’s return in the east.”

“We’re opening a way for the sun?” Aisling was trying to understand but she couldn’t quite get there.

“Yes, I open the ways and that includes the paths of the sun energies to flow.”

They rode and walked until they reached the edge of the sea. It was just before dawn and the light was starting to turn a bit greenish in front of them. Elen stood with her staff on the edge of the cliff and motioned for Aisling to join her. The reindeer gathered round them keeping them warm in the chilly night.

“Stand here next to me, Aisling.” Aisling moved to stand next to Elen.

“What do we do?” Asked Aisling a little worried. Could she really have stopped the sun last year? Was the Chief Druid wrong? Aisling was getting even more worried. What happened if she did this wrong? Would the sun not return?

Elen looked at Aisling. “Don’t worry. The sun will always come back. We just open the way for the energy to flow across the land. It’s like opening a damn so the energy will flow. It slows down in the dark times and now will speed up again and you want it to bring health to the land.”

Aisling thought and then nodded, that made sense. “So what do we do?”

“We stand right here where the sun will hit our land first and then we open our hearts to the new sun reborn. Can you do that?”

Aisling thought she could do that but wasn’t sure exactly how because the sun appeared as a tiny light in the east and Elen flung out her arms and Aisling did the same facing the sun as it peeped over the edge and started to rise. Aisling needn’t have worried. The sight of the sun filled her with joy. She felt full to bursting with love and happiness and Elen gave a loud laugh and cry and Aisling felt the energy rush away.

The sun rose and Elen turned to Aisling. “Time to go until next year”, and she touched Aisling with her staff. Aisling shook her head. She looked around and she was back on the doorway of the cottage. She looked to the East and the newborn sun was rising above the meadows. She looked to the west and saw a herd of deer and a small figure wave and she was gone.

Just then behind her, she heard her teacher give a gasp. “Aisling, go get the healers.”

Aisling ran across the way. Time for a new son or daughter to be born here. Aisling smiled. This was a good day.

Yuletide story – The Littlest Druid celebrates Winter Solstice

Once upon a time in a place that is now called Ireland and a place we call Newgrange there was a very small Druid, well, she wasn’t a Druid yet but all the adults seemed to think one day she would be one. She wasn’t so sure. She didn’t seem to be good at anything. All she really seemed to be good at right at that moment was getting in trouble. So she sat on the bench outside the Chief Druid’s house and waited to hear how much trouble she was in. She sat kicking her heels on the stones that surrounded the hut. She gave an enormous sigh.

The Chief Druid was sitting inside with one of the littlest Druid’s teachers and they were both shaking their heads and smiling.

. “How much trouble is she in this time?” he asked. “Quite a bit,” replied her teacher.

“She’s managed to make herself unwelcome just about everywhere. She was supposed to be helping in the kitchen and she decided to stick her fingers in all the honeycakes that the cook was making for the feast. The cook sent her to help one of the healers and she somehow managed to break several jars of cough medicine the healer had just brewed. The healer sent her over to the Master Brewer and she decided to assist him with the mead for tomorrow and he ended up having to start all over again since she decided if a little mint was good, a lot was better.”

By now the Chief Druid was desperately trying not to laugh too loud and looked about to burst from holding it in.

“Anything else?” he asked, with the little Druid around he was always afraid there was more.

“Let’s see, she was helping the blacksmith with his bellows and blew ashes all over and he got a cinder in his eye and the blacksmith sat down on a hot nail he had just made. He sent her over to Chief Shepherd and she let the sheep out on the grounds in front of the Temple so she’s been picking up the stuff they left behind.”

The teacher was eyeing the Chief Druid who was now bright red and crying.

“What are we going to do with her? She doesn’t try to make trouble, most of the time she thinks she’s helping. But her help is not the kind of thing most people need especially when everyone is going to be up all night waiting for the Sun’s return. And it isn’t helped by the older students scaring her by telling her it will be her fault if the Sun doesn’t return this year. One of them told her if you make too many mistakes the Sun will get mad and not come back and would bring darkness forever more. That made her try to help even more and it’s just gotten worse and worse and I don’t think the poor thing has slept all through the night in a week.”

“I think it must be my turn then,” the Chief Druid said. “I think I’ll keep her with me tonight in the mound. I think she can’t do much harm there. You might as well call her in”

The Chief Druid motioned at the door and the teacher got up and went to get the littlest Druid. The littlest Druid walked in hanging her head and scuffing her feet on the stone floor. Now she was going to get it. It was all going to be her fault if the Sun didn’t come back. They were going to do something awful to her. They might even send her home and she really didn’t want that. She liked it here. Most of the time the teachers were kind and she loved all the animals and she liked learning the uses of the plants and what the meanings of the stars were but she knew if she stopped the Sun nothing would ever go right again and she was really afraid of what they might do to her.

The Chief Druid looked down at the littlest Druid. She was rather bedraggled looking. She had a smudge across her nose and her tunic and pants were filthy with stains and there were several rips and tears and somehow she had managed to get straw in her hair. She looked so sad. The Chief Druid was trying hard not to smile. He had a soft spot for the littlest ones. They always seemed to grow up to be the kindest of the druids.

“What am I going to do with you, Aisling?”

The Chief Druid asked kindly. The littlest Druid just kept looking at her feet. They seemed to be very interesting to her. It was almost worse that he was being nice to her. She kind of wished he would just yell and get it over with.

“I guess it’s my turn to deal with you.” The Chief Druid said. “So tonight, you are going with me behind the spiraled stone and we will wait for the Sun’s return. I think if you stay with me until sunrise we can make sure the Sun does return, no matter what you’ve done.”

The Chief Druid looked down at Aisling very seriously. “You need to go get cleaned up and meet me at the stone in a candlemark. Do you think you can do that?”

Aisling looked terrified but nodded and ran out the door. She was going to sit with the Chief Druid! If the Sun didn’t come back in the morning every one would know it was her fault and the Chief Druid would know first of all!

She was so scared but she didn’t see anyway to get out of her predicament so she got all cleaned up and went to meet her doom at the Temple of the Spirals.

The Chief Druid was standing with his staff waiting for her. “Now we go inside and wait.”

Someone had lit a small lantern and put a couple of sheep skins down inside the room behind the spiral stone.

“We need to get cozy. We are going to be here quite awhile. Do you think you can stay awake to sunrise? We need to catch sight of the sun’s first rays.”

The littlest Druid was terrified. She knew the Sun would never return. The older boys had said so and they were always right and here she was trapped with the Chief Druid. She was shivering with fear.

“Here, sit down by me and we’ll wait. Wrap up in the sheep skin and I’ll tell you about Elen and the reindeer. Your teacher may drop by in a bit with some tea and you can tell her the story later.”

He wrapped the littlest Druid up in her sheepskin and started to tell her all about Elen of the Ways and how she followed the reindeer. About halfway through his story the teacher came in and joined them in their vigil. She’d brought some chamomile tea and they all sat and sipped slowly and they listened to the Chief Druid’s tale of another Winter Solstice night long, long ago.

The littlest Druid’s eyes kept closing and she’d shake herself awake. She had to see the Sun return, she had to, it was important! But she fell asleep anyway and the Chief Druid and her teacher smiled. The teacher reached over and smoothed the littlest Druid’s hair.

“When she’s like this you’d never know she caused any trouble at all.”

And the two of them laughed quietly and kept the vigil as they did every year. The night passed as the longest of nights eventually does and it was almost time for the first light to enter the stone room.

The Chief Druid gently shook Aisling’s shoulder. “Wake up or you’ll miss it.” He whispered.

The littlest Druid started awake. Oh no! She’d fallen asleep! Now the Sun would never return. It was her final failing. She couldn’t meet the Chief Druid’s eyes as he blew the lantern out.

“Oh! Don’t do that! We’re going to need it. The Sun won’t ever return now. I fell asleep and I promised I wouldn’t.”

The littlest Druid started to sob.

“Hey there, none of that. Why don’t we see if the Sun rises before we start our crying. If it doesn’t rise I promise I’ll cry with you.”

Aisling was so confused. This crazy grownup must not have heard everything that had happened or he wouldn’t have said that.

“Come here with us.”

The Chief Druid commanded as he stood up and waited. And something wonderful began to happen. It was just a spark at first and then a small line and then suddenly the room was full of beautiful orange light. The room positively glowed and then it started to fade away and it was gone for another year.

She’d been wrong. The light had returned even though she had done bad things. It had come anyway. She felt like she could breathe again.

The Chief Druid and her teacher took her hands and led her from the small room. Everyone outside was cheering and hugging each other and blessing each other saying. “Blessings of the Sun’s return!”

Someone handed her a small cup of mead and she looked up at the Chief Druid.

“It came back. The Sun came back even though I did bad things?”

The Chief Druid looked at her. “Why do you think that was?”

The littlest Druid thought a bit. “Because I had nothing to do with it? That the Sun was always going to return anyway and I shouldn’t believe everything I hear.” She said uncertainly.

“All anyone can ever do is try their best and just because you make mistakes the world isn’t going to stop turning and the Sun and the Moon will always stay on their courses. Now I think it’s time for a feast! Who’s hungry?”

And the three of them moved off towards the tables that were full of all kinds of good things to eat and stood watching the new born winter sun shine down on all their friends.